This is the second part in a series regarding wisdom. It is adapted from a Bible Study prepared by Dr. Mark Copeland at Executeable Outlines.
James demonstrates there are two types of Wisdom. The better wisdom is heavenly. The worst type of wisdom is worldly. The first is wisdom has its origin from God. The second is demonic and has its root in the devil.
Heavenly wisdom has the nature of God. Earthly wisdom’s nature is in the self. The fruit of heavenly wisdom is pleasing to God. The fruit of earthly wisdom is in fleshly desire and worldly pursuit.
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
James contrasts “Heavenly Wisdom vs. Earthly Wisdom” by their respective origins, by their natures and by their fruits.
We will look first at the contrast of their origins. The natures and fruits of wisdom will be discussed in subsequent essays.
The origin of earthly wisdom is not from above.
15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
This type of wisdom is earthly; that is to say it is bound in the world. Worldly or earthly wisdom sets its own standards. Those standards are based in the flesh. Earthly wisdom is self centered.
God declares this kind of wisdom, earthly or worldly wisdom, to be foolishness.
1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
Earthly wisdom is sensual. Earthly wisdom appeals to our senses, our emotions, and our passions. Worldly wisdom has a standard based in what feels right. It is important to remember that even if something feels right it does not necessarily make it right. Many doctrines within modern Christian churches feel right, but they are not.
Earthly wisdom is rooted in the flesh and it is demonic. This is the kind of wisdom possessed by the Devil and his angels. It was this prideful wisdom that caused God to cast them from heaven.
Worldly wisdom, earthly wisdom, fleshly wisdom; whatever its label, is wisdom influenced by Satan.
Heavenly wisdom is based in God. It comes from above.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Heavenly wisdom comes from God.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
The wisdom given from God is perfect. His wisdom is for our good. He is consistent and He does not change to meet the needs of the world. He changes flesh to meet Him.
His gift of wisdom is what leads us to understand His gift of faith. His gift of faith leads us to understand His mercy. His mercy leads us to experience His grace upon grace.
His wisdom is freely given and comes to us by way of prayer.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
Because we know the origins of wisdom we should be encouraged to choose to pursue the righteous one.
Consider this going forward. Am I convinced beyond doubt that the doctrines I profess are based in heavenly wisdom? Is it even barely possible that a doctrine you hold is questionable or untrue?
Ask God for wisdom.